Home Oxygen - What Else Do I Need To Know?

Home Oxygen - What Else Do I Need To Know?

Some helpful tips on looking after your baby with home oxygen, including how to monitor their progress and when the home oxygen can stop.


Home oxygen for infants

You might find it helpful to read some general information about home oxygen first.

Check the KidsHealth page about home oxygen for infants

How will my baby on home oxygen feed?

For some pēpi (babies), respiratory illnesses can prevent safe or effective feeding by mouth and they may need nasogastric tube feeding.

See the KidsHealth page on tube feeding.

What is a good room temperature for my baby on home oxygen?

It's important to keep your baby warm but not overheated. A room temperature of 18 to 20 degrees Celsius is best. Avoid polar fleece where possible as synthetic materials increase a baby's risk of overheating. Natural, breathable fabrics such as wool and cotton are best.

What medicines will my baby on home oxygen need?

When your baby goes home from hospital, they may need to take a medicine to help remove extra fluid from their lungs. This makes it easier for them to breathe. These medicines are called diuretics. 

If your baby was premature, they will also need a vitamin D supplement (Clinicians vitamin D drops) and iron (most likely ferrous sulfate).

See the Kidshealth page about vitamin D drops.

See the KidsHealth page about iron (ferrous sulphate) for premature and small babies.

When should I immunise my premature baby?

It's important for premature pēpi to have their immunisations on time according to their actual date of birth, not their corrected age.

See the Kidshealth immunisation overview page for more information.

Is it safe for my premature baby to sit in a car seat?

Pēpi with chronic neonatal lung disease can find it difficult to breathe when sitting in a car seat. 

For pēpi with breathing problems, sitting in a car seat for long periods can affect their breathing. It's important that your baby spends no longer than 30 minutes in the car seat at once. If possible, have an adult sitting in the back with them. If you do have to travel long distances, make sure you stop frequently so you can check your baby and get them out of the car seat for a while.

What is the ideal weight for my premature baby?

Your homecare nurse or paediatrician will talk with you about the ideal weight for your baby.

It's important for your baby to gain weight (which also improves lung growth) but it's good to keep this in perspective. 

Is it safe to take my premature baby to a playgroup?

Ask anyone who is unwell not to visit you.

It's important to provide social and play options for your baby. It's also important to weigh this against the risk of infection to your baby. Talk to your nurse about low-risk options in your area such as 'premmie playgroup'.

It's best to meet up in a well ventilated area - outside if it's a nice day. Make sure everyone is feeling well before they visit.

How do I judge my premature baby's milestones?

Remember to check your baby's development according to their due date. Premature pēpi may be slow to develop in some areas due to medical reasons but this does not mean they will not catch up.

Pēpi all develop at different ages and stages and talking to your nurse or visiting neurodevelopmental therapist will give you a better idea on how your baby is doing.

What follow-ups will my premature baby need?

It is important to go to any recommended appointments.

A specialist neonatal homecare nurse will come to your house to follow up. All newborn intensive care units in New Zealand have a homecare nurse who will be your link back to the hospital. In some areas, the homecare nurse may be unable to visit themselves. But they may help manage your baby's care through a nurse that lives in your community.

A paediatrician will also monitor your baby's progress. It's important to go to any recommended appointments.

When can my baby stop having home oxygen?

Weaning of oxygen flow rates will happen as your baby improves. Pēpi will usually have overnight oximetry studies every 2 to 6 weeks.

Your child's paediatrician will monitor your child's overnight oximetry test results and overall progress. This information will help them decide when your child can be weaned off home oxygen.

In general, oxygen can be reduced and eventually removed if your child:

  • keeps growing
  • has no evidence of increased blood pressure in the heart and lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
  • can maintain oxygen levels of greater than 93% when off oxygen

The content on this page has been developed and approved by the Clinical Reference Group of the Newborn Clinical Network, Paediatric Society New Zealand.

This page last reviewed 14 November 2023.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it